The French Taittinger family have agreed to buy back 37% of the family champagne business, sold to Starwood Capital in 2005. The buyback was accomplished with the help of Crédit Agricole, which bought the vineyards back for 660m Euros (£443m). The bank intervened after French politicians became worried that the business might come under control of Belgian investor Albert Frère and Bangalore-based brewery United Breweries, both of whom had made bids. The bank’s stake will fall to 20% under the deal, and the family will have a blocking stake. Crédit Agricole, which finances some 50% of the champagne industry, has been hailed as the saviour of Taittinger. The family are now looking for a “friendly investor” to purchase a 43% stake and complete the deal. The Times 30/12/06 page 43